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    Extinguishers Are Required at Fueling and Vehicle Repair Facilities

    By Mark Conroy

    Portable fire extinguishers are required at every facility that dispenses fuel into vehicles and every vehicle repair garage. That is according to NFPA 30A, Code for Motor Fuel Dispensing Facilities and Repair Garages, which applies to motor fuel dispensing facilities, marine type fuel dispensing facilities, and fuel dispensing facilities located inside buildings. That code also applies at fleet vehicle fueling facilities, fuel farms, motor vehicle repair garages, and isolated construction sites. NFPA 30A is a widely adopted code, due to the fire hazards and associated risks of handling and dispensing of flammable liquids around motor vehicles.

    All Fuel Dispensing Facilities and Vehicle Repair Garages
    According to NFPA 30A, every motor fuel dispensing facility or repair garage is required to have portable fire extinguishers that are selected, installed, inspected, and maintained in accordance with NFPA 10, Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers. For indoor applications, extinguishers rated for Class A fires need to be uniformly installed throughout each floor of the building, based on the maximum area to be protected per extinguisher, and located so that the maximum travel distances does not exceed 75 ft. Additionally, Class B rated extinguishers need to be installed to match the hazard, wherever flammable or combustible liquids are stored or dispensed. Multi-purpose dry chemical extinguishers are permitted to satisfy both requirements provided the extinguisher ratings are adequate for all hazards.

    Vehicle Repair Garages
    Specifically, NFPA 30A requires each vehicle repair garage to be provided with fire extinguishers, but refers to NFPA 10 for selection and placement. Extinguishers would, therefore, be needed for building protection (Class A Hazards) to match the combustibles hazards and Extra Hazard for Class B (spill fire), if there is a potential for 5 gallons or more of flammable liquids in an area or room. For Extra Hazard, NFPA 10 requires a 40-B rated extinguisher to be within 30 ft of those areas. Alternately, an 80-B unit could be up to 50 ft away.

    Outdoor Fueling Operations
    All gas stations and marine facilities, where boats pull up to be refueled, are required to have portable fire extinguishers. Extinguishers for the dispensing areas are required, according to the Extra Hazard requirements for Class B hazards (40-B units at 30 ft travel distance). An exception in NFPA 30A allows the travel distance to an 80-B rated extinguisher to be up to 100 ft.

    Self-Serve Gas Stations
    In addition to the extinguisher requirements for all outdoor fueling facilities, there are special requirements for attendants at self-service motor fuel dispensing facilities. Self-service dispensing facilities are properties where fuel is dispensed into vehicle fuel tanks by persons other than the facility attendant. NFPA 30A requires an attendant on duty when the gas station is open for business. The primary duty of the attendant is to “supervise, observe, and control” the dispensing of fuels. Specifically, the attendant is responsible for the following:

    • Prevention of fuel being dispensed into unapproved containers
    • Controlling sources of ignition
    • Activation of emergency controls to stop the flow of fuel
    • Notification of emergency services including the local fire department
    • Handling of accidental spills
    • Use of portable fire extinguishers in the event of a spill or fire emergency

    The National Fire Protection Association developed and maintains this code to provide a reasonable level of safety and an acceptable degree of fire protection from the hazards. The portable fire extinguishers are required to be installed as a first line of defense for incipient fires and are intended to cope with fires of limited size.

    The owner of the property, where the fire extinguishers are located, has an obligation for the care and use of the extinguishers at all times. The property owner is responsible for recognizing the hazards and planning in advance the means and equipment that a fire will be fought. The owner must also ensure that everyone knows how to call emergency services, including the fire department in the event of a fuel spill or fire emergency.

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